Which Vegetables are Allowed in Shepherd’s Pie?

When is a Shepherd’s Pie no longer a Shepherd’s Pie?

What vegetables are acceptable in Shepherd's Pie?

“Let’s add in some mushrooms!”

“How about some zucchini?”


Okay. When is a Shepherd’s Pie no longer a Shepherd’s Pie? When does it turn into a meat pie? Or a casserole?

I’m a purist foodie at heart. Don’t make a cauliflower crust and call it pizza. Please refrain from stuffing a duck inside of a chicken inside of a turkey. You want to blend bananas and call that ice cream? No, no, please. Give me the classics and I’ll be happy.

My Shepherd’s Pie requires four things: meat, potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Anything more or less, call it what you wish, but it is not Shepherd’s Pie.

Now, this is all my own opinion. And I would be glad to hear some rebuttals in the comments if you think that one of these vegetables doesn’t belong. Let’s get started.

Vegetables Allowed

When I think of Shepherd’s Pie I think of England. And when I think of England, these are the vegetables I think of:

  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Rutabaga
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms

I can see corn also as a vegetable, as well as celery used sparingly.

Vegetables Not Allowed

There are some vegetables that do not belong anywhere near a Shepherd’s Pie.

  • Tomatoes (Okay, wait. I’ll allow a bit of tomato paste in there. But not, like, huge chunks of tomato)
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber (Whyyyyyy????)
  • Eggplant ( This isn’t a moussaka kiddos)
  • Jicama
  • Cauliflower
  • Radish
  • Beets (Beats me why you’d put this in)
  • The little baby corn things
  • Green peppers
  • Okra
  • Cabbage

Do you agree? Is there something on this list that you would allow? Did I miss anything?

This post originally appeared in March, 2016 and was revised and republished in March, 2018.

Lyndsay Burginger

It’s always entertaining when Lyndsay’s in the kitchen. She’s even been known to belt out Broadway show tunes while making dinner (a handy whisk as her microphone, of course). She currently writes for her international food and travel site, Lyndsay's Travel Kitchen . Lyndsay is also on the editorial team at The Cookful.